As they say, life sometimes looks to come in the way of cycling. Mine did too. With time, like everybody, my kids grew up as well. When I’ve put my elder son in school 2013 and I opted not to use prohibitively costly school transport for the 2km home to school commute, I had to take up the duty to drop him to school every morning. Dropping him at school at 8 am meant that I needed to be back from my morning rides by 7:30am. To get a 2hr ride in, I’d have to start at 5:30am. The early start and finish would not be a problem during summer but in Bangalore winters, it would be dark and cold. Even if I didn’t care for the darkness and cold and made provisions to take care of them by adding lights and dressing in layers, there is always a chance of delay due to flats etc. So, I’ve decided to bite the bullet and buy an indoor trainer to ride at home during weekdays.
|My first trainer workout setup on 19th June 2013! Nearly 3 years later it is still rock solid!|
|The knob that determines the resistance! A couple of turns after the tire touches the roller drum, you’re good to go!|
|The assembled trainer!|
The noise levels are quite low. Low enough so that my kids sleeping in the next room don’t get woken up. That is a good enough for me. If I have to watch something on the laptop to pass time while riding, I use a bluetooth headset. That ensures that no dialogues are drowned although the laptop is quite a bit away from the trainer.
As mentioned earlier, you don’t need to adjust any tension etc to increase resistance. The faster you try to go, the more difficult it becomes to ride, just like on the road. I prefer to do all my intervals indoors not just because I can’t go out and ride during weekdays but also for safety reasons. The noise levels during very high intensity intervals can get a little bit high(compared to the relative calmness of the trainer otherwise) but not so much as to trouble the household if you’re setup behind closed doors.
What Would You Need Apart From The Trainer?
A high power fan is a must. I use a stand fan from Bajaj but often wish that I invested in an industrial strength heavy duty fan. In the absence of the flowing wind that cools all your body on a continuous basis as you ride outdoors, you tend to sweat bucket loads while riding indoors. So, a sweat catcher of sorts comes in pretty handy if your bike has to stay rust free over a period of time. I use a turkey towel set up like a sweat catcher with the help of a few cloth clips but investing in a sweat catcher or getting one made at a local tailor is not a bad idea.
Once you made arrangements for cooling yourself down and dealing with your sweat, the main thing you need to think about is how to deal with the boredom. Yes, it is incredibly boring to ride indoors. No question. You don’t have the varying scenery that keeps your mind occupied as you ride outdoors. You don’t have friends to chat with as you make each other suffer or while just riding to the coffee place on that scenic route. All you have is you and your bike on the trainer and the wall to stare at. The boredom is very real.
A very simple way to deal with boredom of indoor workouts is having a specific workout plan. Intervals help you focus on your power, HR or speed for a specific amount of time, usually a small period, and won’t give you enough time to get bored. You hit your numbers for the work interval, spin for the rest interval and before you know, it is time to start your next set. You can get through an hour or two worth of trainer time without any issues if you have a specific set of intervals to focus on.
If even intervals can’t keep you focused, there are now options like Zwift, Trainer Road and Golden Cheetah that you could use to enjoy your time on the trainer. Zwift is a video game like interface married to your trainer with the help of an ANT+ dongle that makes your trainer session a virtual reality game of sorts. You spin on your trainer and the speed/power etc is picked up by the Zwift software on your laptop and your ride is simulated on screen depending on how much power/speed you are putting out. I have tried it during it’s Beta stage and its pretty cool. It has now become a paid subscription based service costing around $10 per month. Not too costly if it could help you get stronger on the trainer. It also added features like providing workouts etc similar to Trainer Road.
Trainer Road is more of a workout platform that has come into existence long before Zwift etc. It is also a subscription service and can be a potent tool for trainer rats. Golden Cheetah is a free open source software that has some of the features of Trainer road in that it has a similar training interface but you have to set up your own workouts etc and do them instead of somebody setting you your workouts for you and it gives features like Virtual power that Trainer Road provides. I will do a separate post on GC at a later point of time.
I just love this trainer. Over the last 3 years, I have put in hundreds of sweaty training hours on it. Rain or shine, if I wanted to ride, it was there for me and never failed me. I think, I give it a rating of 4.75 out of 5. That .25, I would give it if putting the bike on the trainer and taking off is made even more simpler. It is already very simple but you know how lazy I am. Although I haven’t tried many other trainers, this trainer takes care of all my indoor training needs and is built to last a life time. What else could I ask for! I highly recommend it for anyone who is in the market for a solid, reliable, no-nonsense trainer.
PS: If I could give back something in return, I should spend some time cleaning it, I think. Over the last three years, I hardly did any maintenance(as you can notice from the photos above which I took this week). Not that it needed any, but I think an occasional wipe down of sweat and dirt could keep it looking like new.